Essence Festival has a long history of being seen as a weekend for “the aunties” in the Black community, a word of affection usually reserved for women over 40. However, Essence Festival 2023 included new activities in an effort to shift that perception.
The main home of the event, New Orleans, Louisiana, hosted Essence event 2023 from June 29 to July 3, 2023. About a month before the event, Girls United, Essence’s platform for Gen Z, tweeted, “Who said Essence Fest is only for the aunties?” The #GUCreatorsHouse is for people who have the guts to be themselves, change things up, and connect with the future generation of Essence, from the creator to the hustler.
Women’s United The The festival’s “all-new” daytime and nighttime experience, called Creator’s House, was created especially for Gen Z participants. The Creator’s House has a futuristic, neon-fueled vibe that was largely influenced by Y2K, with enjoyable, participatory photo booth moments and Instagram-worthy settings. The cash bar, which was fashioned after what seemed to be a crashed UFO, was located across from a free airbrushing station for making bespoke trucker hats and tank tops, as well as a free tooth jewellery station run by the nearby company New Orleans Tooth Gems. The Creator’s House was effective in establishing a cool female mood with cool girl activities by offering prizes that were fashionable, modern, and reflected the flare of showy early aughts style.
The Creator’s House, however, was not situated inside the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Centre like all other Essence or their partnered brands activations; rather, it was situated across the street at The Sugar Mill, a converted warehouse venue somewhat tucked away from the commotion of the Convention Center’s main entrances.
Essence Festival 2023
The event’s venue occasionally seemed a little too large for the crowd it attracted, and many attendees took advantage of the freebies rather than sticking around for the panels or activities, such as lip sync competitions and networking hours, which was unfortunate given the exciting lineup of speakers Girls United had planned, including influencers, college athletes, and young CEOs. Regardless, the tiny audience present gave the panellists their full attention as they shared the lessons they had discovered during their own professional paths.
The weekend has always relied on the cornerstone of its nocturnal performance series at the Caesars Superdome, showcasing a rotation of the top names in R&B, Soul, and Hip-Hop, despite the fact that Essence Fest has expanded well beyond its music festival beginnings and now includes focuses on culture, beauty, and fashion.
But the performers on the schedule have always tended to be a little older, with few artists in their twenties. Aaliyah, 16, Mary J. Blige, and Boyz II Men, all in their mid-twenties, were the youngest performers during the event’s first year in 1995, which was staged to commemorate the publication’s 25th anniversary. There was a 21-year-old Lauryn Hill in 1996. A 20-year-old Usher in 1998. Destiny’s Child was the only performer on the 2001 roster that was in their early twenties.
About 20 years later, significant attempts have been made to improve the Superdome main stage, with Chloe x Halle, City Girls, Coco Jones, Tems, and Megan Thee Stallion among the headliners in 2022, 2023, and 2024, respectively.
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